Friday, July 8, 2011

Strawberry cupcakes

Strawberry cupcake

I made blueberry cupcakes last year, so this year, with plenty of fresh strawberries in the house, I thought, why not strawberry? Everyone loves cupcakes, not to mention that they're easy to make impressive-looking -- I got plenty of compliments on these beauties, not to mention the yummy taste.

Let me just say, though, that for those who aren't big on frosting, you may not like these, 'cause with these, the frosting really makes them. The cake is faintly strawberry, just a bare hint, but the frosting is bright and berrylicious. Also, one caveat: This recipe is written to only yield a dozen. I doubled it when I made it, 'cause honestly, who makes only a dozen cupcakes?

Strawberry Cupcakes
From Sprinkles Cupcakes via Martha Stewart

Around 2/3 c strawberries
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 c whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 egg and 2 egg whites

About 1/2 c strawberries
1 c butter, softened slightly
Pinch of salt
3 1/2 c confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan with cupcake papers.
2. Puree the 2/3 cup of strawberries; you'll need 1/3 cup of puree.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. In another bowl, mix together the strawberry, milk and vanilla.
5. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the sugar. Beat in the egg and egg whites just until blended.
6. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the strawberry mixture, then the rest of the flour mixture, just until combined.
7. Pour evenly into the cupcake tin. Bake for about 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Cool cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack.
9. Puree the 1/2 cup of strawberries.
10. Beat together the butter and salt, then add the vanilla and 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree. Then, beat in the confectioners' sugar.
11. Frost cupcakes and serve.

Strawberry jam


When you've got a bunch of these, in season and fresh from the berry patch, how can you not want to preserve them any way you can? The season's so short, after all, the time for perfectly ripe, sweet, delicious berries so fleeting, and the berries themselves are so perishable and disappear so quickly once you start eating them. Sure, one can freeze them (and I certainly did freeze some), but I was looking to try something new, and so, I made my first jam -- nine pints of it, in fact (well, more like nine and a half, but I didn't have any half-pint jars, so that bit went to waste).

This came out pretty good, though I think I'd dial back the sugar a bit, 'cause the fresh berries really didn't need quite so much help. Still, the result was certainly jam in consistency and compared well to store-bought jam in flavor -- though mine smelled and tasted more like fresh berries and less like corn syrup and preservatives.

Jars of jam Mmm, jam

Strawberry Jam
From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

2-3 quarts strawberries
7 c sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
1.75 ounces powdered fruit pectin

1. In a large pot (or a canner if you've got one), place your empty canning jars. Fill the jars and the pot with water. Cover and bring to a simmer.
2. In another, smaller pot, place the lids for the jars (not the screw bands, just the lids) and water to cover. Bring to a simmer.
3. Measure the sugar into a bowl and set aside.
4. Wash and hull the berries, then crush them with a potato masher a bit at a time, until you have 5 cups of crushed berries. Place them in a large pan.
5. Add the lemon juice, then whisk in the pectin until dissolved.
6. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add in the sugar all at once and return to a boil while stirring. Boil hard for 1 minute.
7. Remove from the heat and skim off the foam on top.
8. Remove one jar at a time from the canner or pot, dump out the water inside into the pot, place on the counter next to your pan and fill using a canning funnel, leaving a quarter-inch of space at the top and avoiding leaving any air bubbles in the jar (slide a nonmetal utensil in to release them if they form). Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth if necessary. Then, using a magnetic or nonmetalic utensil, remove a lid from their water bath and center it on the jar. Place a screw band on the jar and screw it down until fingertip-tight -- do NOT overtighten. Repeat with more jars until you can't fill another full jar. (Do NOT can less than a full jar -- it won't be safe to eat.)
9. Once all of the jars are filled, lower them into the canner or pot, making sure that they are covered by at least an inch of hot water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, keeping them upright. Place them on a towel in a draft-free place and let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
10. Remove the screw bands and test the seals. If you press down on a center of a lid and it moves, it didn't process properly and must be either refrigerated for immediate use or reprocessed.